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Cassatt crescendo

Musicians perform pieces by Russian, A&M composers

Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 02:10

Cassatt Quartet

David Cohen

For a moment, there was silence. A subtle stillness permeates the concert hall as the quartet straightens their posture. An inhalation, and then the bow is pulled across the strings of the violin, the vibrations resonating outward as the opening notes of the musical composition.

The world-renowned Cassatt String Quartet will collaborate with students and faculty in their upcoming concert, sharing both new sounds and professional instruction for the Texas A&M musical community.

The Cassatt String Quartet’s performance will function as the opening to a new season for Texas A&M’s Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts. The concert, featuring pieces by composers such as Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and Texas A&M professor Peter Lieuwen, is meant to entertain and teach students.

Jennifer Leshnower, a violinist in the Cassatt String Quartet, said the group is excited to work with students and faculty during their residency on campus.

“The opportunity to stay and work together and go into classes where students work is very special and something that the Cassatt Quartet enjoys immensely,” Leshnower said.

“GreenSpace,” the piece composed by Lieuwen, calls for a triple-string quarter, therefore allowing students of the Texas A&M Orchestra the opportunity to work with the professional ensemble.

“It’s designed as a teaching tool and as a means for the Cassatt Quartet to share [techniques] with the students,” Leshnower said.

Lieuwen’s piece celebrates the parks and national forests of the country while touching on the unification and harmony of these areas with those of a more urban nature. Lieuwen said the piece includes contrasting elements, bringing together two differentiating motifs.

“It’s rhythmically vibrant,” Lieuwen said. “The lyrical parts represent nature while the more active and rhythmic parts represent the urban aspect.”

Leshnower said the group is enthusiastic about working with Lieuwen on his piece, offering them a chance to receive input from the actual writer.

“This is our first opportunity working with Peter,” Leshnower said. “It’s very rewarding getting to work with a living composer.”

Also to be performed in the upcoming concert are pieces by Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich. Leshnower said this assortment will offer audiences a variety of compositions, mixing the lighter tones of Tchaikovsky with the heavier work of Shostakovich.

“It’s a program of contrasting works,” Leshnower said. “Shostakovich’s work is written under duress with a heavy heart for people all over the world who are suffering. Tchaikovsky is from the romantic period and is well known for ballet music and symphonies.”

Jessica Knott, program coordinator for AVPA, said the academy hopes to gain recognition for the new direction it’s taking this year with the upcoming performance. Knott said there will be more collaboration and joint efforts in the future of AVPA.

“I think it’s a pretty big deal,” Knott said. “We hope that people learn through the performance of the music and that they will see what talent we have here at A&M and what we have to offer.”

Leshnower said she hopes that students have the opportunity to attend the concert and experience a live-string quartet.

“We hope it’s enjoyed by all and that we have the opportunity of returning in the future for more,” Leshnower said.


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